Full-time Blues 18 Crusaders 19
The Crusaders take it by the narrowest of margins. The Blues applied the pressure up until the last minute with Weepu attempting a dropgoal from inside the 22 in the last play of the game. It was partially charged down sending it just wide of the uprights. The home side have been made to pay for their ill-discipline conceding too many kickable penalties and the Crusaders shut them out once they got their noses in front.
Bleyendaal has a chance to restore the four point lead, but again his long range effort falls short.
65min Blues 18 Crusaders 19
The Crusaders hit the front again. However the Blues may be grateful to only give up three points after a break from Israel Dagg put the Crusaders in a strong position. Dagg freed the pass to Fruean who was chopped down in a good tackle by Toeava. However the Blues were caught offside and Bleyendaal added three more to the tally.
Tyler Bleyendaal misses his first shot of the night. The Blues were penalised on their feed to the scrum. The penalty attempt from 40 metres out fell a few metres short of the crossbar.
Interesting substitution from Pat Lam sees Weepu replacing Benson Stanley. Hobbs will push out to second five-eighth allowing Weepu to slot into the pivot.
55min Blues 18 Crusaders 16
Hobbs makes amends for the previous miss, nailing a shot from almost the same spot. The penalty was for the same offence and referee Pollock has had a word to Crusaders captain Kieran Read. Massive roar from the crowd as Piri Weepu looks set to enter the fray.
52min Blues 15 Crusaders 16
The Blues miss an opportunity to regain the lead. Sam Whitelock was penalised for leaving his feet at the ruck and Hobbs stepped up to attempt the tricky shot at goal. He struck the ball well from 40 metres out, 10 metres from the sideline, but the shot was away to the right.
41min Blues 15 Crusaders 16
The Blues close the gap to a point immediately after half time. They made their way into Crusaders territory after Ranger and Wulf linked up to break through the defence. Wulf found Ali Williams outside him who was able to get them into the Crusaders' 22. The Crusaders infringed at the ruck, giving Hobbs an easy shot right in front of the sticks.
Half-time Blues 12 Crusaders 16
The first half ends with a prolonged period of attack from the Blues, but they cannot turn it into points. They almost broke through the Crusaders defence with their final play, but were penalised for shepherding. So the Blues discipline letting them down at this stage and giving the Crusaders the half-time lead.
Massive excitement from the crowd as Ranger finds a gaping hole in the Crusaders defence. He runs 60 metres down the field evading Andy Ellis. Eventually Sean Maitland wraps him up, but Ranger gets the ball free allowing Alby Mathewson to toe it through for Rudi Wulf, but the ball gets an unlucky bounce and rolls safely into touch.
28min Blues 12 Crusaders 16
Ryan Crotty is hammered by a high shot from Michael Hobbs. He went down hard, but was able to get to his feet. Referee Pollock opts not to reach into his pocket, but warns Hobbs to keep the tackles low. Bleyendaal kicks a regulation penalty goal from a touch under 40 metres out.
20min Blues 12 Crusaders 13
The Crusaders hit the front for the first time in the match through Robbie Fruean. The powerful centre exposed the Blues defence on the right edge, evading tackle attempts from Raikuna and Toeava to score under the posts. The Bleyendaal conversion puts the visitors up by a point. Incidentally the rain has started bucketing down here at Eden Park.
13min Blues 12 Crusaders 6
Deja vu here as the Blues give away another kickable penalty after scoring a try. This time referee Chris Pollock pinged Toeava for not releasing the ball carrier in the tackle and Bleyendaal adds another three to the Crusaders tally.
10min Blues 12 Crusaders 3
The Blues hit back with their second try immediately. Isaia Toeava found space on the left hand side before giving a beautiful inside ball to Ranger, who made metres and drew in numbers. The ball was recycled quickly and David Raikuna cashed in on a massive overlap on the right hand side. Hobbs couldn't hit the tough sideline conversion.
7min Blues 7 Crusaders 3
Just like that the Blues have given up three easy points. Rene Ranger come through the ruck illegally and kicked the ball away 10 metres out from his own tryline. Gives Tyler Bleyendaal an easy kick to get the Crusaders on the board.
4min Blues 7 Crusaders 0
The Blues get the dream start to their season as Jerome Kaino charges down an attempted clearance kick by Israel Dagg. He and Chris Lowery chased it down and despite some confusion Lowery was able to dot it down for the opening try of the season. Michael Hobbs easily nailed the conversion.
The 2012 Super Rugby season kicks off in Auckland tonight with the heavyweights of the New Zealand conference going toe-to-toe at Eden Park.
The Blues met the Crusaders here in round one last year, with the home side coming from behind to register a memorable victory. Despite this, it was the Crusaders who sat at the top of the conference by the end of the season.
The seven-time champions will still be tough to topple without Richie McCaw and Dan Carter but also have opted to play Israel Dagg on the wing and have All Black front-rowers Corey Flynn and Owen Franks on the bench.
The Blues have also left prize recruit Piri Weepu on the bench
for his Blues debut while fellow Hurricane discard Ma'a Nonu has
been left out following his stint in Japan.
The match gets underway at 7.35pm so make sure to check back for updates with all the action from Eden Park.
Blues: Isaia Toeava, David Raikuna, Rene Ranger, Benson Stanley, Rudi Wulf, Michael Hobbs, Alby Mathewson, Jerome Kaino, Daniel Braid, Chris Lowrey, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, Charlie Faumuina,Keven Mealamu (c), Tom McCartney.
Reserves: Pauliasi Manu, Tevita Mailau, Brad Mika, Luke Braid, Piri Weepu, Hadleigh Parkes, Sherwin Stowers.
Crusaders: 15. Tom Marshall, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robbie Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Israel Dagg, 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 9. Andy Ellis (vice capt), 8. Kieran Read (capt), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 4. Tom Donnelly, 3. Ben Franks, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 1. Wyatt Crockett.
Reserves: 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Owen Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19. Luke Whitelock 20. Willie Heinz, 21. Tom Taylor 22. Adam Whitelock.